Ash is the newest writer to hit the pine for NBAMate. He is a shameless Golden State Warriors fan, and therefore an expert on failure, the draft and voodoo. But it’s his allegiance to the West Tigers that makes him unmistakeably Aussie.

While I was watching Game 6 of the Finals, something occurred to me.

The Lakers have a really stupid name.


I know that it came with the team from Minneapolis, but…are there any lakes in Los Angeles? (Not counting the La Brea pits).

The Celtics, on the other hand, have a near perfect name that draws on the Irish heritage and massive Celtic-American (Irish, Scottish and Welsh among others) population of Boston. However, they’re in a minority among NBA teams.

Which got me thinking. What if all the teams in the NBA were forced to change their names, with the only restriction being that they have to come up with something that represents where they come from?

In a quest to piss off all the remaining fanbases that I haven’t pissed off so far, I consulted a couple of my drinking buddies (Al, the Philly boy and Joe, who’s a Phoenix Suns fan from West Sydney) and we made this list over a drink. Or two. Or seven. I lost count.

Atlantic Division

We all agreed the Celtics should stay for the reasons I outlined in the intro. There’s really nothing else that fits as well.
Boston Celtics

New York
While the name “Knickerbockers” is a little bit naff (why would you name your team after underwear anyway), we thought it’s good enough to stay with the backing of the tradition and history behind the name. Keep the Knicks. Al pondered the New York LeBrons for a while, but we shouted him down.
Name: New York Knicks.

New Jersey
Now here’s a name that had to be changed. The first question – do we keep it in New Jersey, or factor in the shift to Brooklyn? However, when we realized that Jersey provided far more potential names, we decided to keep it to the Garden State for now.

Some of the names we came up with included the New Jersey Shore, the New Jersey Mafia, New Jersey Sopranos, New Jersey Guidos…but we were stuck until Joe had one of his alcohol-fuelled moments of brilliance.

“I’ve got it!” he shouted. “The New Jersey Situation.”

Perfect. We name the team after the state’s greatest resident, which also lends itself to play-by-play calling. Imagine Marv Albert or Stan Van Gundy now. “The Situation are running the pick and roll…the Situation have just made a three pointer…the Situation…the Situation…”

It’s perfect. I will not hear debate on this matter.

When the team moves to Brooklyn, we decided on the Brooklyn Blowout over the Brooklyn Hipsters. Celebrates the tradition of the old name, and represents something from the area.
Name: New Jersey Situation.

Since Al is from Philadelphia, we let him have carte blanche with this one.

After a few minutes, he came up with the Philadelphia Cheesesteaks. His reasoning being that the 76ers isn’t that great a name (we agreed) and that Philly cheesesteaks are the city’s greatest aspect (I agreed). While Joe pondered some sort of reference to Ben Franklin, we shut him up. Cheesesteaks it was.
Name: Philadelphia Cheesesteaks.

Automatic agreement – whatever Toronto’s name was, it had to be something Canadian. However, hockey has already stolen the Canadiens, Canucks and Maple Leafs, which also by default ruled out Joe’s idea of Toronto Maple Syrup.

Toronto ended up proving quite hard, until he then suggested the Toronto Mounties. Wanting to move on, we agreed.
Name: Toronto Mounties.

Southeast Division

The original plan had been to go with some reference to politicians, since the Capitals belongs to hockey. The Washington Pollies, Washington Senators (already taken by Ottawa) and Washington Congressmen were all suggested, but none really suited.

I then figured that since Washington still has one of the highest murder rates in the USA, the change of the name from Bullets to Wizards robbed the NBA of one of the few sensible names. So I suggested reverting back to the Bullets, and everyone seemed to think that was a good idea, if a bit harsh on Abe Pollin’s memory.
Name: Washington Bullets

Al came up with either the Charlotte Tar Devils or the Charlotte Blue Heels, as a portmanteau of the two more popular college teams of the region. I felt this was basically the Bobcats acknowledging that no one in the area cares about them and suggested they may as well call themselves the Charlotte Nobodies. This idea didn’t catch on.

Once again, Joe bailed us out by pointing out that the Bobcats aren’t a bad name as it is. Bobcats are cool – they’re tough, nasty little buggers. I don’t know how many they have around Charlotte, but then again I don’t know where bobcats live full stop. So we kept it at that.
Name: Charlotte Bobcats.

OK, let me get one thing straight. I’ve had a few bad personal experiences with Atlanta. It’s the one place in the world where I’ve been called a terrorist (twice in the same day – and I didn’t even have a full beard, just a few days’ stubble) and been picked for a random airport screening that involved my crotch being patted down by a fat redneck lady.

So I suggested the Atlanta Rednecks. The other guys didn’t like it much until I pointed out that no one in Atlanta even cares about the team. In the end, I pushed the Rednecks over the Atlanta Turners and the Atlanta Pop Rocks.
Name: Atlanta Rednecks.

We all agreed that the name Magic was perfect for the home city of Disneyland, with one addition. I suggested that Magic become Magic Kingdom, and it eventually won out over Al’s idea of the Orlando Disneys. I’m on a roll.
Name: Orlando Magic Kingdom.

My roll ended in one of my favourite cities in the world, as we would up deadlocked over what the Miami team name should be. I suggested we stick with the Heat (Cause, after all, it’s pretty hot in Miami. Both the climate and the women), Al wanted the Miami Cubans (when you’re sitting in a bar with an Indian and an Asian guy, you can afford to be racist very loudly) and Joe suggested the Miami Cocaine (he watches too much CSI).

None of us would budge, so we had to take the first Settlement Chug of the night. By now, we were all varying stages through our second beers. First one to finish theirs gets their name as the winner. Joe won, so Cocaine it was.
Name: Miami Cocaine.

Central Division

We were almost led to two consecutive Settlement Chugs. I truly believed that the name “Bulls” had to stay, and not just because I have that much respect for MJ. I believed that he had created enough tradition around the name “Chicago Bulls” that it had to stay. However, Al was firmly of the opinion that if we kept the Bulls, then we had to keep the Lakers as well. Not wanting this since that would effectively defeat the purpose of doing this exercise in the first place (other than to have a few beers with the boys), I caved.

Once that was settled, Al proposed the Chicago Wind, which passed without much debate. I suggested the Chicago Whirlwind, but by now I’d spent a fair bit of goodwill.
Name: Chicago Wind.

None of us saw any convincing reason to change the Pistons name. Tradition, history, and most importantly a link to the legendary if dying Detroit auto industry. The Pistons can keep pumping.
Name: Detroit Pistons

Since none of us have ever been to Indiana, we couldn’t think of a name off the top of our heads. I floated the Indiana Scarecrow (cause of the state’s cornfields) and Joe suggested the Indiana Brickyard (after the legendary Brickyard).

In the end, however, Al asked the question.

“Who is probably the most famous person to come out of Indiana?”

“Larry Bird.” It took me a couple of seconds to answer cause the alcohol was beginning to catch up with me. I decided to take a raincheck on the next round, abuse from the boys and all.

But anyway, by now Al had continued that they had to be called the Indiana Birds. Joe asked if it should be the Indiana Birdmen, but then I reminded him that Denver already has the Birdman.
Name: Indiana Birds.

And in case you’re wondering, yes… Larry nailed both of them
straight after he broke through this banner

Joe straight up said, “Just call them the Cleveland LeBrons and be done with it,” before finishing his third beer and ordering a whisky and soda.

Al, however, disagreed. “LeBron’s on his way out anyway. May as well call them the Cleveland Losers.”

I remembered an old article I had written on the possibility of the Cavs moving if LeBron left town. Maybe an idea?

“Hey guys, why don’t we move the team to Seattle?”


“LeBron gets a bigger market so he stays, Seattle gets a team with the biggest star in the NBA, and it’s easier to name a team from Seattle than Cleveland.”

“That’d never happen.”

“And I suppose the Heat are gonna be changing their name to the Miami Cocaine tomorrow?”

“Good point.”

Once we’d decided that the Cavaliers were moving to Seattle, I decided to pay tribute to the legendary Seattle music scene by suggesting the name Seattle Grunge. No one objected.
Name: Seattle Grunge.

The Bucks are a nice name and all, but it had to change. Luckily, we had all seen BASEketball. Al suggested the Milwaukee Beers instantly, with obvious allusion to the movie. While me and Joe – Aussies true and all – suggested that the Milwaukee Piss may be a better name (Cause, after having been drinking Coopers since we were old enough to steal beer, Miller Lite tastes like fermented horse urine) but in the end, we compromised and the Beers stuck.
Name: Milwaukee Beers.

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City
Since in our little booze-filled world Seattle had a team, I felt that I could finally refer to the Team Formerly Known As The Seattle Sonics by their given name without being worried about my dad’s reaction. (Since, however, that wasn’t the real world, Kevin Durant’s team shall not be named in full here).

I obviously suggested either the Hijackers or the Zombie Sonics, but was met with a “shut up and get the next round.” When I came back with three beers, the two traitors had decided that a more appropriate weather-based name would be the Oklahoma City Tornadoes, given OKC’s proximity to Tornado Alley. I liked this. Maybe Clay Bennett would get sucked up in a tornado.
Name: Oklahoma City Tornadoes.

I like the Trailblazers name. It has a history in Portland (possibly the best one-team town in the country behind Green Bay and the Packers), it sounds cool and it even sort of alludes to the trail blazed by Lewis and Clark as they crossed the country. However, Al suggested the Portland Rain, since, well, it rains a lot in Portland. And I saw no reason to argue.
Name: Portland Rain.

Oh boy. How many ways is this name wrong. Once again, to reference BASEketball, “the Jazz moved from New Orleans to Salt Lake City, where they don’t allow music.” This is the worst and least appropriate name in the NBA. Has to go.

We decided that we couldn’t allow anything too anti-Mormon (so there went Utah Polygamy, Utah Big Love and Utah Wives) but, thankfully, there were still options open to us.

I decided to steal one from Bill Simmons and suggest the Utah Salt Mines. They liked it, however Joe took it a step further and suggested the Utah Miners. Which was good. Miners are badass. My neighbour goes and works in the gold mines in West Australia during summer – not only does he make a crapload of money, but he’s tough as hell.
Name: Utah Miners.

The idea behind the Nuggets name is excellent – a reference to the gold mining history of Colorado. However, the name itself isn’t so great – Nuggets make me think of chicken nuggets. While Al suggested keeping it, he was voted down by 2 to 1. However, we all agreed that the new name had to be of reference to gold (which eliminated Joe’s Denver John Denvers idea, funny as it was).

Being the alcohol-fuelled idiot savant that I am, I managed to dig out Denver Gold Rush from the recesses of my brain. Perfect. So they also thought.
Name: Denver Gold Rush

The ‘Denver John Denvers’ idea didn’t make the cut… just wanted an excuse to post this pic

I came up with about 20 ideas for Minnesota which all referenced Prince or the Replacements (Minnesota Purple Rain (which is useless cause we already have the Portland Rain), Minnesota Replacements, Minnesota Love Symbol, Minnesota Bastards, Minnesota First Avenue and others) but finally they all agreed with me on the Minnesota Six.

Not only does it reference the state’s most famous native (Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Minnesota 6, geddit?) but it also shows how important the fans (the “sixth man”) are to the team. Not the greatest idea, which is also perfect for a team that isn’t the greatest. The alcohol is beginning to catch up with us now.
Name: Minnesota Six.

Central Division

And here’s why I’m glad that Al’s Miami Cubans idea didn’t win. The Dallas team has to be the Cubans. Why? As a reference to their crazy, megalomaniacal owner, of course! (For the record, yes, I am jealous. I wish Cuban owned the Warriors). What more could he want? Al didn’t like it much and suggested the Dallas Coattails (cause they ride on the Cowboys’ coattails) but Joe, who had the deciding vote, went for my idea. Cubans it is.
Name: Dallas Cubans.

I have to admit, I was torn on Houston. On one hand, the Rockets aren’t a bad name. They have all the factors to back it up, plus there’s NASA’s presence in the city (“Houston, we have a problem”). I would have been in favour of keeping the Rockets name.

Al, however, had other ideas. His dad grew up in Houston as a massive Oilers fan, and he says that he never reacted well to the shift to Nashville – kinda like my Dad when the Sonics left Seattle. He suggested that we refer to Houston’s sporting past, as well as the oil mining tradition of the area, by naming the team the Houston Oilers. I liked it. Joe wasn’t so sure – he thought about the Houston Oil Spill, in reference to what’s happening in the Gulf right now – but we shouted him down. Oilers win by 2 to 1.
Name: Houston Oilers.

San Antonio
Al made a feeble case for keeping the Spurs name, but no one was listening. The San Antonio team had to refer to the Alamo. No question.

Only problem was, me and Joe couldn’t decide between the San Antonio Alamo (his) or the San Antonio Crocketts (mine). Al, still pissed off, wasn’t helping us with this name so we sent him to get a round as we did a settlement chug. Bad idea, since I’m not very good at skulling liquids. He won easily, and it became the San Antonio Alamo. I still think the Crocketts were better.
Name: San Antonio Alamo.

New Orleans
There was no real debate here – it was the easiest name change of the night. With Utah out of the way, the name New Orleans Jazz could finally return to it’s rightful team. While the Hornets is a good name, the Jazz is perfect.
Name: New Orleans Jazz.

Given Memphis’ musical tradition, we wanted to give them a musical name as well. However, apparently those hockey pricks have the Blues in St Louis already so that was our first choice gone, and we couldn’t find a good reference to Elvis (Joe’s Memphis Graceland idea was bollixed by us).

We were floundering for a minute until we heard some dude’s phone in the bar go off – it was playing White and Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic, which was of course based on Chamillionaire’s Ridin’. An example of Dirty South hip hop.

Dirty South.


The Memphis Dirty South.

OK, it’s not that great. Again, an average name for an average team. Actually, it’s not that bad.
Name: Memphis Dirty South.

Pacific Division

LA Lakers
OK, here it came. The reason why I went to all the trouble of organizing this summit in the first place.

Tradition, history aside, the Lakers name is ridiculous. It must be changed.

But to what?

Los Angeles lends itself to so many great names.

However, once again a musical ringtone saved me. This time it was my own. Specifically, Nine Inch Nails’ Starf***ers, Inc.

As Mr Burns would say, excellent.

The Los Angeles Starf***ers.

Why not? They already pull the celebrities, they’re the glamour team of the NBA, they’re a bunch of wankers (OK, I admit it, I hate the Lakers, but beside the point)…plus, this lends them the perfect Jumbotron intro music.

Al and Joe agreed with my logic (and since this could never happen, the issue of parents allowing their kids to support a team with an obscenity in it’s name is moot) so it was made official.

Last round, Joe’s turn to go get it. We’re entering the home stretch.
Name: Los Angeles Starf***ers.

LA Clippers
Al had an instant idea for the Clippers.

“How about the LA Wannabes? Think about it. They want to be as good, as cool, as respected as the Starf***ers – not happening. The Clipper girls want to be as hot as the Starf***er girls – nope. Donald Sterling wants half the success and respect that Jerry Buss has – again, not in this world. They get celebrities to come to their games, but they’re all D-listers. Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio don’t go to Clipper games unless the Lakers are playing.”

His logic was perfect. Wannabes it was.
Name: LA Wannabes.

I automatically argued for keeping the Suns name and no one had a problem. Have you ever been to Phoenix in summer?

I’ve spent the past ten years living in Sydney, where most summer days go over 40 degrees Celsius in the shade. You don’t go out except to the beach if you can help it. Phoenix is the only place I’ve been to where it’s been hotter. Plus, no beach. The Suns are the perfect name for them.
Name: Phoenix Suns.

Picking a name for Sacramento proved hard. Mostly because there’s nothing interesting there, yet I’m the only one of us who’s been and I like the place enough to not want to insult it with a Sacramento Nobodies tag or similar.

In the end, we saw no real reason to discard the Kings tag. Sure, there’s no kings in Sacramento, but it’s the state capital. The Governator goes there (when he has to), and I’m pretty sure he fancies himself as a king.

I’m not bending any rules. What rules? This was just an excuse to have a few drinks and talk crap as usual, only I’m making an article out of it.
Name: Sacramento Kings.

Golden State
I’d made sure to save the hardest one for last. Since I’m from Oakland originally and the Warriors are my team, I was left with freedom for this one.

I wanted to keep the Warriors name, but couldn’t see a reason to. I decided that I would make them the Oakland Whatevers, so that San Francisco and San Jose don’t get any ideas about stealing the team.

Once I narrowed it down, however, it became obvious.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Along with Tupac, MC Hammer is probably our most famous resident. And how better to honour him than by naming the team the Oakland Hammers? Sure, hammers may be a by-word for dumb, but those are some tough mofos. You don’t want to mess with the Hammer.

Needless to say, there was no debate.
Name: Oakland Hammers

So there you have it. If you think you wasted a few minutes of your lives reading that, remember that I’ve wasted several hours, both in coming up with the list and eventually writing it, since I had recorded our entire conversation from that night. It had gone on for four hours and contained copious amounts of BS along with the good stuff. Sifting through to find the substance was harder than it sounds.

Peace out.

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